In a bid to circumvent the problem of providing licences to hawkers, the BMC is working towards amending a section in its Act that will allow unlicensed vendors to at least register with the local body. These registrations, the civic body hopes, will help regularise hawkers with moveable wares to vend necessary products without fear of eviction.
“Since 2010-2011, we have been waiting for the state government to grant approval to this amendment to section 313 of the Municipal Act. It is uncertain when this amendment will come through, but with this, necessary hawkers such as the milkman, vegetables and newspaper sellers can run their business without problems. We have been writing to the state government to give its approval for this soon,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani.
The recent eviction drive against hawkers who are a sustainable source for providing essential goods at cheaper rates to low and high income groups alike, has triggered a debate on the right to livelihood vis-à-vis the illegality of unlicensed hawking. Section 313 of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Act of 1888 pertains to the licensing of hawkers in hawking and non-hawking zones. Action against unauthorised hawkers is taken under section 314 of the BMC Act.
“As per a Supreme Court order, we can no longer grant licenses. This pegs the current number of licensed hawkers around 16,000 as of today, which is miniscule compared to the actual number of hawkers operating in the city. We want to let hawkers register with the BMC at least without having to give them licenses if they have moveable wares that will not take up much space,” said Adtani
Meanwhile, municipal councilors demand that hawkers displaced from the recent stringent eviction drive held across the city be rehabilitated in the vacant municipal markets that are ready for possession.
There are 103 municipal markets across Mumbai of which 25 are to undergo redevelopment under the new market policy and 18 civic markets have been proposed for redevelopment. The rest 60 markets can be used for rehabilitation, say corporators.
“Instead of opening tenders for occupancy in the many vacant markets lying waste, why can't the BMC rehabilitate these hawkers there. They will not require more than 40-50 sq ft and the BMC can earn from the rent charged to them. The hawkers will also be regularised and they will not have to keep paying hafta to petty officials, “said BJP corporator Vinod Shelar